Twelve horse riders have successfully completed the Race of Their Lives at York Racecourse. 

Between them, the 12 raised £200,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support so they could have the privilege of racing at Knavesmire on a race day. 

They started the action at the annual MacMillan Cancer Support day at York Racecourse and were  roared down the finishing straight by supporters and well-wishers as well as many who had come for the six following races.

The winner of the annual Race of their Lives  was the youngest rider in the race – teenager Louis Pern of Helmsley. 

He rode Hartswood to a four-length win over Kalikapour, ridden by Charlotte Lawson of York, and said the horse had given him an excellent ride.

He had volunteered to take part in the race because he knows several people who have a connection to cancer.

His friend Roxie Tuohy and her sister were jumping up and down with excitement as he crossed the finishing line at the end of the one mile and one furlong race.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” she said.

Louis rides her eventing horse. He had been schooling it in dressage two days before the race – and will be competing in an international three-day event at Alnwick from Wednesday.

He said that he thought the balance and strength he uses in the three-day event helped him in the race which he said was a lot faster than the longer event.

Rain was threatening as the 12 horses and riders made their way from the parade ring to the start but held off.

All 12 riders put their hearts into the race, They had been preparing  for months, juggling their physical preparation with their jobs.

Almost as soon as the last horse crossed the finish line, the heavens opened and the spectators raced for the racecourse buildings or huddled under trees and umbrellas as the winner made his way to the winner’s enclosure.

A queue rapidly formed at a stall selling umbrellas next to the Gimcrack Restaurant which sold out in minutes.

All the jockeys were soaked when they went to the weighing room before the prize-giving ceremony which went ahead as the rain continued to fall. The annual race has now raised £10 million for the charity.

The fund-raising continued throughout the racecard which started with the Queen Mother’s Cup for lady amateur jockeys and included feature race of the Sky Bet Race to the Ebor Grand Cup Stakes, won by Ryan Moore on Klondike.

The bars were packed and the crowds of thousands came dressed for the occasion. Among those at the racecourse were some given complimentary tickets because of their contributions to MacMillan.

Here and there were children accompanying their parents.